In smart collaboration, employees hold the key. Takeaways from the X-change of 15 May 2019


When you are implementing a smart collaboration project, you absolutely need the full participation and conviction of your staff. They are the ones who must actually use all those tools for sharing and engaging cross-team and cross-function, and for growing the company’s digital strength. 


In the world of smart collaboration, many of us have found that "Culture eats strategy for breakfast", as Peter Drucker says. So in this session, we zoomed in on the change process that surrounds a company’s smart collaboration project, and we explored how to transition your company culture in this process. Then Lidl, Dropsolid and Ter Beke shared how they engaged their staff in their real-life smart collaboration projects. Presentations are available to members below (after login).



Building a new culture of work to transform the employee experience


"Digital innovations are disrupting our world – so you must disrupt or be disrupted", said Luc Van Ballaer, Director Connected Workforce Solutions EMEA at Insight, as he opened the session.  But these disruptions offer the opportunity to re-think our world and our ways of working.


There are many issues surrounding these digital innovations, of course. To name only a few:

  • CEOs worry about the speed of digital change
  • People, not systems, drive innovation
  • Talent shortage is a major barrier
  • Millennials need positive reasons to stay with their employers.


When looking at a few studies and within real companies, we observe a few interesting numbers.  For instance: only 7 – 18% of organisations have the digital dexterity to adopt new ways of working in the digital world, while 86% of Collaboration Applications in use are not IT-supported (this means the average user is ‘rogue’). 


These observations/findings raise challenges for the different departments in a company at all levels, including:

  • CxO: How can I ensure that new technology investments deliver a tangible ROI?
  • IT & Security: What policies can I use to secure sensitive data and guard against threats?
  • HR: How can I attract & retain staff and keep them engaged across digital maturity levels?
  • Communications: How can I keep employees up-to-date and reduce information overload?


Bridging people, processes and technology is fundamental in embedding collaboration tools in a company's culture, fostering employee engagement to drive adoption, enabling effective collaborative team working and offering personalised information to reduce information overload.


Luc listed 5 main conditions for employee engagement (overview on slide 9). The most challenging may well be collaborative teamwork - where teamwork is rewarded and driving people's behaviour (slide 10 has more). 'Personal productivity' is another important focus area: make sure to avoid information overload, by bringing the right information to the right people.  And ensure that desired information is easy to find and consistent throughout the organisation (the so called 'single pane of glass interface').


Luc closed his talk with some takeaways:

  • Change is happening… and the pace is accelerating
  • Change is driven from the top down: communicate and engage employees
  • Success will be limited without an effective plan
  • People and collaborative working are the keys to success.


Lidl's change management approach when implementing a new smart collaboration solution


Moving from theory to practice, Youssef Aberkane, Senior Consultant Service Desk at Lidl, walked us through the company’s smart collaboration story, as it seeks to move from a 'hard retailer' image to a ‘favourite shop’ and strong brand identity.  This ambitious goal requires passion, enthusiasm and drive from employees, which led to the idea of flexible working and NWOW (new way of working).  Lidl went through a major transformation in that area. For example, after 18h, internal mails are kept on the server and never pushed to the individual mailboxes, to protect the employee’s work/life balance.


The work/life balance remains a major challenge, especially for the district managers. At times, they must work on Sundays, travel around to several different sites, etc.  To guard their quality of work life, Lidl worked with the Orange Mobiline solution to solve the issues at hand (slides 10-12).


How Dropsolid improved collaboration by scaling-up digital experiences and data


After the break, Dominique De Cooman, CEO and founder of  Dropsolid (a very young company, founded 6 years ago), took the floor and shared how collaboration is handled within this agile team.


As Dominique explained, it all starts with Dropsolid's mission - 'Making digital entrepreneurship easy' - and vision - 'Creating value, time & freedom'. This keeps staff in line and pointed in the same direction. Staff also needs to understand the company's values: Dropsolid wants to attract people who can endorse these.  Thus, mission, vision and values facilitate the attitudes and skills that are required from the employees (slide 9). All this creates the 'employee experience' (slide 12). 


And, just as it does with customers, the company encourages employees to connect with it on any possible platform and channel. In fact, the employees are considered to be equally important as customers, Dominique emphasised.  The lack of hierarchical structure and the overall transparency enable all staff to see their own contribution to the company and their role in the team. Of course, certain things remain private, such as bookkeeping or personnel/salary data. Dominique shared the tools Dropsolid has in place for this entire environment (slide 39).


To conclude, Dominique shared some final insights:

  • The best collaborations arise when everyone can and may contribute
  • Smart contribution is only possible when the right data is available in real time
  • With everyone pointed in the same direction, magical things can happen.


Smart Collaboration and workflows at Ter Beke


Our final story of the day came from Marc Decroos, ICT Manager Infrastructure & Operations at Ter Beke:  a company that comes with a long legacy.  'Zeal' is an important part of the company's DNA, said Marc: meaning drive and transparency.


In 2013, Marc went searching for an efficient IT collaboration toolset.  At that time, the company content was spread over different separate tools, which meant a lot of content was never updated.  Marc found Citrix’s Podio solution:  a cloud-based collaboration service that is very different from other tools (slide 13).


Ter Beke introduced and rolled out this new Podio solution starting in 2014. Since then, Ter Beke has been moving away from using email for internal communication. Marc shared several lessons learned along the way (slides 19-21). He concluded that, when choosing a tool, content and the context are both equally important.



















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